Another rhino killed in KZN

2010-09-02 00:00

ANOTHER rhino has lost its life in one of the cruellest incidents of rhino poaching in the province to date.

So far this year poachers have killed 15 rhino in KwaZulu-Natal alone. The last reported tally countrywide was 178.

The adult white rhino was found yesterday morning inside the Ndumo Game Reserve. It had been snared in a cruel but common cable snare set for large game, and is believed to have been killed late the previous day or overnight.

The animal was slain with spears after being hamstrung so that it could not run away or defend itself. The poachers then crudely chopped off its horns, cutting deeply into the skull.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) media spokesperson Jeff Gaisford said it was hoped the rhino had died before the horns were removed as the injuries were terrible.

He said EKZNW field rangers found the carcass of the white rhino — the sex of which had not been determined — yesterday morning in an area of the reserve west of the Pongola River and adjacent to the Mbangweni Corridor, which members of the local community have recently been invaded for land cultivation.

Ndumo Game Reserve lies on the Mozambique border in the north-western part of Maputaland in KZN.

Gaisford said the cable snare in which the rhino became entangled is a type of noose set frequently by poachers aiming to catch large game.

The area where the rhino was caught was frequented by hippo and buffalo as well as rhino.

He said the snaring is unlike the sophisticated poaching methods employed by syndicates who have recently taken to using high-powered rifles and helicopters from which animals are being darted with scheduled veterinary drugs to immobilise them before they are dehorned.

“This was definitely the work of amateurs. The horns were crudely chopped off with axes and cane knives.

“Locals who know how to remove horns would be able to do so quite easily and much more cleanly.

“At this stage it would appear that the rhino’s capture may have been opportunistic,” said Gaisford.

He said hippo are often targeted in snares like this for their meat.

No attempt was made by the poachers in this case to remove any of the rhino meat, however, and they obviously knew the value of the horn, he added.

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